Selling your business is hard. It’s hard to place a monetary value on something that you have been pouring your blood sweat and tears into for years. You have to relinquish control to someone new, and yet you want to find the absolute best person for the job since the future happiness of your clients and staff that you love is involved. Because of the nature of our industry, so much of the value of your business is wrapped up in your own skills as a professional that you might wonder how to go about selling it at all. Here are a few things that I have learned from this process that might help.
1) Make sure that there really is a business outside of you. What I mean by this is that you need to have income making potential even if you are not personally seeing clients, whether this is from retail product, other practitioners, class sponsorship, etc.
2) Look at the effectiveness of your branding. Is your business name well known? Does it have a good reputation? Brand recognition is one of the major reasons why someone would choose to buy your business rather than start from scratch. It takes time to get your business name ‘out there’, especially if you are working with a small or non-existent advertising budget. If you think that you might want to sell your business a year from now, taking steps over this next year to get your name out will serve you well. We go to health shows all over the country and I am shocked by how many people see my business card and logo and say; “I’ve heard of you”.
3) Create some separation between yourself and your business. I had an interview with a potential buyer last week who asked me, “If you could go back in time and change anything about starting your business, what would you do?” My answer was that I would set up my accounting better (not my strong suit and still a mess, but much much better than it was when I started!). But after I thought about it for a moment, I realized that part of the problem (even with the accounting) was that the lines between what belongs to me personally and what belongs to the business are so blurry. Just cleaning out my stock room took forever as I realized how much of my personal paperwork and documents had migrated into the space over the years. Start creating an inventory of the equipment, furniture, books, products etc that are associated with your business and figure out who they really belong to — you or the business.
I know there are plenty of websites and books out there to help you with the actual selling of your business, but I have had trouble finding info that is specific to the kinds of challenges we face in this industry. Do you have an exit plan for your business? Or, like so many of us, will you see clients until you physically can’t anymore?
I’m looking forward to hearing from you — we’re all in this together!